From the pastor
The coming of a New Year affords us all the opportunity to approach 2005 with great hope and anticipation. I have asked every member to make at least one New Year’s resolution concerning their walk with Jesus Christ. Whether it is to be more faithful to God’s house, to sing louder, to pray more consistently or to be faithful to God’s word, it is certainly an endeavor worthy of our attention. I have heard it said that sharing our resolutions with family and friends helps us to be faithful to them. I announced to our church that my New Year’s resolution was to take a special interest in the young people of our church. To do this, I need the prayers and support of the parents. May God bless our efforts!
The world has just witnessed what has been described as the most horrible natural disaster in history. What a comfort it is for us to know that Jesus Christ is still ruling in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. Surely, as we view the terrible scenes of those who are suffering it should cause us to be very thankful for the blessings around us. This disaster is very indicative of our Lord’s words in Luke, 21:25, when He described what may very well be the sign of His return: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring”. Many earthquakes have been reported recently, and of all things, this latest catastrophe has caused the seas and waves to roar. We see a great falling away among professed believers as Paul described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition”. Evil men and seducers have waxed worse and worse and the wickedness of this world can no longer be cleansed by the destruction of a city or nation. Today, we have the internet, the airwaves, the television, music and Hollywood, all serving the beast in one way or another. To make it worse, people seem to think it is just the status quo as Peter said they would say: ”Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation”. Do not we hear the words of Paul ring in our ears concerning the latter days: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which god hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth”. Surely, this too, is a sign of the times. Couples live together outside of the bonds of wedlock unashamed. Some of God’s own people seem confused over this as well as other issues. As Paul described in his second epistle to Timothy, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God: Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Much could be said of this, but is it not a commentary of our present day? And since we bring it up are we not ridiculed and laughed at as the prophets of old when they prophesied against Israel, or as Noah, who warned the people as he built the ark. We do not know the exact day of our Lord’s return, yet, all of this should cause us to lift up our eyes and anticipate the return of our Lord and King. Though God’s family are forever secure, being bought by the precious blood of the Lamb, the scriptures still warn us to be found watching and waiting for HIS return with great anticipation and delight: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” I must say with Peter, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness”- 2 Peter 3:11. If there has ever been a time for God’s people to be called to faithfulness, this is the time.
We have been saddened by the loss of one of our dear sisters, Sister Velma Cothern. She departed this life on December 30, 2004, and is now with our Lord in glory. Her smile and encouragement will be greatly missed.
What is happening AT HARMONY
Elder Lasserre Bradley is scheduled to be with us for our annual meeting, the second weekend in April. We are looking forward to having him again at our church as his ministry has been a special blessing to us over the years.
Thanks to a private contribution, our church will begin a radio broadcast in Arkadelphia in the near future. This broadcast will air at 8:30 a.m. on KDEL, 100.9 on the FM dial. This is a 3000 Watt station and should reach all of Arkadelphia, Gurdon, Friendship, Donaldson and parts of Malvern. We covet you prayers and hope it will become a blessing for our church and lead others to Christ.
We are continuing with our series of messages from the book of Ephesians. I have greatly enjoyed the study of this book. We have uncovered many wonderful truths that have become a blessing to our souls. The prayers of the apostle for this church have been of particular interest to us and we feel we have gone back to the beginning of the gospel age and learned what we should really be praying for as a church. On the first Sunday in January, we will begin with the second half of this epistle which deals, primarily, with the Christian walk.
In one of our messages, we spoke of the church as the family of God and the blessings of our church family. I felt it was by God’s providence that I came across an old church covenant written by Benjamin Keach and adopted by the church he pastored and shared it with our church. It is entitled, “The Family Covenant”, and this was written about it: “This famous pledge of spiritual oneness was the Solemn Covenant adopted by Pastor Keach’s great congregation in London in 1689. In those days it was read out at the beginning of every Lord’s Supper service. Nearly 300 years later the same church, now the Metropolitan Tabernacle, still requires of all members a pledge to keep this family covenant.” This covenant that each believing member solemnly entered in to provides us with great food for thought. It should make us stop and consider: are we as faithful today; would we be so faithful as to enter into this covenant with our brethren? I share it with you at this time for your own person consideration.
THE FAMILY COVENANT
We who desire to walk together in the fear of the Lord, do, through the assistance of His Holy Spirit, profess our deep and serous humiliation for all our transgressions.
And we do solemnly, in the presence of God and of each other, in the sense of our own unworthiness, give up ourselves to the lord in a church state, according to the apostolic constitution, that He may be our God, and we may be His people, through the everlasting covenant of His free grace, in which alone we hope to be accepted by Him, through His blessed son Jesus Christ, whom we take to be our High Priest, to justify and sanctify us, and our Prophet to teach us, and be subject o Him as our Law-giver, and the King of Saints; and to conform to all His holy laws and ordinances, for our growth, establishment and consolation; that we may be as a holy spouse unto Him, and serve Him in our generation, and wait for His second appearance, as our glorious Bridegroom.
Being fully satisfied in the way of church-communion, and the truth of grace in some good measure upon one another’s spirits, we do solemnly join ourselves together in a holy union and fellowship, humbly submitting to the discipline of the Gospel, and all holy duties required of a people in such a spiritual relation.
1. We do promise and engage to walk in all holiness, godliness, humility, and brotherly love, as much as in us lieth to render our communion delightful to God, comfortable to ourselves, and lovely to the rest of the Lord’s people.
2. We do promise to watch over each other’s conversations, and not to suffer sin upon one another, so far as God shall discover it to us, or any of us; and to stir up one another to love and good works; to warn, rebuke, and admonish one another with meekness, according to the rules left to us of Christ in that behalf.
3. We do promise in a special manner to pray for one another, and for the glory and increase of this church, and for the presence of God in it, and the pouring forth of His Spirit on it, and His protection over it to His glory.
4. We do promise to bear one another’s burdens, to cleave to one another, and to have a fellow-feeling with one another, in all conditions both outward and inward, as God in His providence shall cast any of us into.
5. We do promise to bear with one another’s weaknesses, failings, and infirmities, with much tenderness, not discovering them to any without the church, nor any within, unless according to Christ’s rule, and the order of the Gospel provided in that case.
6. We do promise to strive together for the truth of the Gospel and purity of God’s ways and ordinances, to avoid causes, and causers of division, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3).
7. We do promise to meet together on Lord’s-days, and at other times, as the Lord shall give us opportunities, to serve and glorify God in the way of His worship, to edify on another, and to contrive the good of His church.
8. We do promise according to our ability (or as God shall bless us with the good things of this world) to communicate to our pastor or minister, God having ordained that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. (And now can anything lay a greater obligation upon the conscience that this covenant, what then is the sin of such who violate it?)
These and all other Gospel duties we humbly submit unto, promising and purposing to perform, not in our own strength, being conscious of our own weakness, but in the power and strength of the blessed God, Whose we are, and Whom we desire to serve. To Whom be glory now and for evermore. Amen.
During our last deacon’s meeting, we discussed the possibility of a new P.A. system for our church. The one we presently use is about ten years old and that is the approximate life expectancy. We have obtained a bid from a company in Little Rock that specializes in church P.A. systems. A complete overhaul will cost about $3,000.00. This includes a new amplifier, new ceiling mounted speakers, a lapel mike, the ability to record and reproduce our messages and singing in C.D. format.
Rather than taking the money out of the general fund, we decided it best to make a special fund that the membership can contribute towards and when the amount is met we can proceed with the project. A new P.A. system will not make us more spiritual, nor will it make us better preachers. Yet, there are members who struggle hearing our messages and announcements. Also, the cassette tape is becoming obsolete in vehicles and homes. This is a way that modern technology can better enable us to minister to the needs of others. Please communicate your contributions to the deacons.
We have in our library two sets of commentaries for your benefit as you study God’s word. We have John Gill, my personal favorite, and Matthew Henry. Please use these as a study guide, yet remember, they are fallible men giving their personal view.
REMBER IN PRAYER
The family of our departed sister, Velma Cothern;
My mother, Sister Norma Phelan, who has recently been hospitalized due to complications involving a previous stroke;
Brother Carl Osterloh, who has been taken to Little Rock to live with relatives due to weakness involving heart complications.